For Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators “Vandy Week” has never been a big blip on the rivalry radar.
Sandwiched between the controversy surrounding Brandon Spikes’ on-field payback and a visit next weekend to see the Old Ball Coach, the game with the Commodores seems lost at sea.
But Meyer and his Gators have something to prove on Saturday…that they are whole once again and are ready to charge, not stumble, into Atlanta for a meeting with the Tide.
And charge they will, especially if these numbers resemble torpedoes aimed at the Commodores…
Games in a row that the Gator defense held the key offensive star of that week’s opponent to a subpar performance.
Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, MSU running back/receiver Anthony Dixon, and Georgia wideout A.J. Green all found the going difficult when facing Brandon Spikes, Joe Haden and the rest of the Gator defensive squad.
This week, Vandy return specialist Warren Norman brings his true freshman enthusiasm to the Swamp as he attempts to better is record of three kickoffs returned for touchdowns. His 1526 all-purpose yards are also tops for the Commodores.
Meyer and Strong have a great deal of experience neutralizing impact players. Norman, as with his predecessors, will find himself the star object of Gator defense and special team attention.
The Gators’ second best effort balancing rushing and passing first downs.
Against the Bulldogs, Florida posted 9 passing and 11 rushing first downs. Only the effort against the Razorbacks came closer to half for each.
Urban Meyer’s attempt to retool the offense worked. One of the most impressive improvements was the decrease in average third down yardage attempts.
Vandy can no longer expect Florida to be one dimensional when they have the ball. Meyer’s alterations have finally returned the element of surprise and unpredictability to the Gator offense.
Percentage of total points (to date) Vanderbilt has earned in their non-conference wins over Western Carolina and Rice.
Vandy looked like last year’s squad when tagging the Catamounts and Owls for 81 total points.
But the Nashville Nightmares from last season are long gone. In SEC play this year, Vandy has had to scratch and claw for every one of the 39 points they’ve earned in five matches—resulting in a dismal 7.8 points per game average.
The wheels have come off the Commodore cart and the spare was left at home…
The difference in time of possession rankings between Florida and Vanderbilt.
This year, Vandy ranks dead last in time of possession with an average of 25:59. Florida ranks 11th with an average of 32:32.
That translates into a potential swing of 6:33 for Florida. Plenty of time for one long stall or three quick strike Gator drives.
It keeps getting worse for the Commodores…
The total number of Gator players who rushed and/or caught a pass against Georgia.
Meyer got it right in Jacksonville.
After repeated subpar performances by the Florida offense, Meyer and coordinator Steve Addazio put together a game plan that took the pressure off of Tim Tebow and spread the ball around in an unpredictable fashion.
The star of the game was the passing attack. With play calling finally designed to take advantage of defensive formations, Tebow finally looked comfortable throwing the ball.
There is still room for improvement within the Gator offense but the performance against Georgia was a huge step forward. It’s been a while coming but a genuine look of confidence and excitement could be seen on the faces of Tebow and his fellow teammates responsible for moving the chains.
Games since the Gators last held an opponent scoreless.
Vandy’s offensive woes took another hit this week when it was announced that starting quarterback Larry Smith will miss the rest of the season due to a hamstring injury.
Redshirt senior Mackenzi Adams, co-hero of Vandy’s 2008 squad, will take over quarterback duties but will be without the offensive line that helped the Commodores get to and win the Music City Bowl last year.
But Gator defensive coordinator Charlie Strong would love nothing more than to add one more feather in his cap by putting a clean sheet in the record books this season. Unfortunately for Vandy, recent trends for both teams indicate that a shutout is more likely than not…
The end of season ranking of the last University of Florida team that went 8-0 in the regular season.
In 1996, Danny Wuerffel led the Gators to a regular season record of 10-0 before losing to FSU in Tallahassee. The stars were in alignment over the next two weeks and the Gators found themselves back in the national title hunt after a win over Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.
This season, the Gator’s have overcome a few more opponents than appeared on the schedule.
Meyer turned a big corner for his team this week by righting the wrongs with the offense and dealing with Spikes in a way that has endeared himself to his players.
It’s been said before but the only thing that can stop the Gators now is themselves…